Although you will also find menswear and childrenswear at Riga Fashion Week, at the 29th edition, which took place in late October, there seemed to be a strong focus on representations of femininity, encompassing everything from playful prints to power dressing.
One of Latvia’s most popular brands NóLó describes its customer as “extraordinary, independent, free-spirited and a ‘forward’ personality, in all senses of the word”. This is evident in the spirited and humorous theatrics of its catwalk shows and this season, a collection inspired by health and medicine was displayed on models wearing surgical masks or wheeling drips down the runway.
Pixie Won’t Play. And why is that? Because “She is real, she is powerful, she is feminine, and she requires a wardrobe to match her lifestyle.” So, this Latvian label’s focus is on blending feminine and masculine silhouettes, a wearable colour palette and breathable fabrics for an urban woman who means business. The SS19 collection focused heavily on asymmetry, with cold-shoulder cuts and extra-long sleeves.
Ivo Nikkolo is one of Estonia’s most established brands, founded in 1994 and aimed at “a busy and self-confident woman… women who appreciate non-traditional classics, meticulous choice of fabrics and exclusivity in details”. The SS19 collection “reflects the changes in women’s needs”, say designers Britta Laumets and Frida Jõe. “It’s effortless and comfortable, but not boring. Playful tricks and edgy elements are carefully added to the overall elegant and rather minimalistic style.”
In contrast, Amoralle’s collection, presented against a background of tapestries and Turkish carpets, was anything but minimalistic. This luxury lingerie and nightwear brand is one of Northern Europe’s most successful, with sales doubling year on year since it was founded by Inese Ozola in Riga in 2008. “Amoralle is the story about love, femininity and sexuality,” says Ozola. Its “philosophy is to bring a timeless femininity into the daily life of every woman and make her blossom”.
Tallinn-based designer Diana Arno has dressed just about every female celebrity in Estonia (as well as being the only designer to entice Carmen Kass onto the catwalk in her homeland). It’s easy to see why. Initially launching her label in 2011 with made-to-measure cocktail dresses, she has since expanded to include tailoring, outerwear, denim and accessories for women who want elegance with eye-catching details, as well as practicality. A grey trench is available with or without colourful appliques and flowing resortwear dresses are designed to be thrown in a suitcase and come out crease-free.
Now, Arno hopes to bring her timeless designs to an audience beyond the Baltics and her participation in the United Fashion initiative is one step in that direction. United Fashion is an exchange programme between several European countries to promote their designers abroad. Over a four-year period, at least 150 designers will have the opportunity to visit and learn about foreign markets.
As one of the key partners, the Baltic Fashion Federation selected 16 designers from Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia and Portugal to participate in a programme of activities during Riga Fashion Week, which included a designer showroom, workshops, seminars and networking events.
It was encouraging to see a record number of international guests descending on the Latvian capital for this edition of Riga Fashion Week and the participation of designers from Germany, Macedonia and Portugal for the first time. It was equally encouraging to see so many designers addressing the needs of women today. In the wake of #Me Too there seems to be a renewed effort to focus on femininity without boundaries and, above all, to offer options, so that a woman can choose which form it takes.
Find more information about the event here
Special thanks to LIVE RIGA
Words | Huma Humayun